Day Five: What risks did you take in 2013?
Let’s be clear: I am not a natural risk taker.
But I am a big believer in getting out of my comfort zones.
I lived my life out loud this year, louder than I ever have before. With that, came doing things that felt risky to me. Even if the only “risk” was feeling a bit squirmy and uncomfortable. Truth is, I didn’t exactly jump out of any planes this year.
Deciding to lead my first yoga retreat would likely go at the top of my “risks” list. I have taught yoga for nearly a decade and my teaching feeds me in many ways. I don’t always bound out of bed each day, excited to share a rousing round of Sun Salutations with everyone, but I do walk out of every class feeling more grounded, more inspired and more fulfilled than when I walked in. Teaching yoga is definitely a two-way street–the teacher feeds the students but in turn, the students inspire me as well. This year felt like the right time to focus on expanding my teaching and yet I didn’t feel called to take on additional weekly classes. Self-preservation has become a necessity.
Retreats seemed like the most obvious choice. But this choice required me to put my business hat on. I am not an avid businesswoman.
Finding a location, deciding whether to have it in a completely private venue or simply use space and resources in a resort already set up to do such things was the first order of business. With a little searching I discovered a wonderful and private woodsy lodge in Leavenworth, just east of our Cascade mountains. It was large and rustic, but comfortably appointed. Not too far of a drive for most and early enough in the fall to avoid any chance of snow in the pass. My niece, a card-carrying foodie at heart, agreed to take the leap with me and come along as our chef. I took a deep breath, signed the contract and booked the lodge. Gah!
The next month was all about the money. What to charge was positively mind-boggling for this non-businesswoman. Computing deposits, food costs, expenses and whether it was for a private or shared room made my head hurt. Fortunately, The Mister stepped in with his yellow legal pad and helped hammer out the numbers.
Promotion came next. Fliers printed. Announcements made. I felt like a saleswoman. I guess I kinda was. Really, I just wanted to teach some yoga.
I got a handful of rooms booked right away. Enough for me to exhale, just a little. Hey, maybe this little enterprise might actually work, I thought. For like a second until a brand new flood of doubts filled my mind. I kept talking about it, writing about it, spreading my own little retreat cheer to anyone who might listen. A few more rooms booked. I took a breath. By August, I was fairly confident that I would at least break even on this risk. Another exhale.
About a month before the retreat, I sold my last bed. This was really happening! All along, it blew my mind that these folks would actually dedicate their hard-earned money and time to spend a weekend with me! I was immensely honored and tickled pink. It felt good. I began planning our practices and talking about food with my niece.
I walked into the lodge on that Friday of our retreat for the very first time, fingers firmly crossed. I had seen plenty of photos online, but nothing really comes close to the real thing. I was not disappointed. More breathing.
Twelve women, ranging in age from thirty-something to seventy showed up. I knew most of them, but not all. A few had come on the recommendation of a friend. Most practiced yoga, but several were wet-behind-the-ears beginners. Our practice room was snug but adequate, a beautiful, giant stone fireplace the focal point.
By Saturday evening, the whole bunch of us sat gathered informally around the giant, weathered kitchen table, drinking wine, sharing stories and laughing. So much laughing. New friends were made, old friendships rekindled and me, in the midst of it all, feeling like the luckiest girl in the world. Sunday morning brought our last practice of the weekend followed by a scrumptious Sunday brunch. Bags packed, we gathered at the lodge’s front door and hugged our goodbyes.
Such strong, inspiring, divergent women and so much connection. No drama. Twelve arriving as strangers, all leaving feeling a part of a community, even if just for this one weekend.
I learned a lot. What worked well, what didn’t. It might not have been a free-fall airplane jump, but at times, it felt a lot like it to me.
In the end, however, my biggest lesson was about trust. Daring to trust my instincts and trust my abilities to do my job well. Trust that I have something of value to offer people that might make their life better. Even if for just a weekend.
This decidedly non-risktaking, non-businesswoman is currently planning more retreats. One by the water, for sure. Maybe Whidbey Island next. Perhaps more with a themed focus. Writing and yoga. Baking and yoga. Hiking and yoga. Or just yoga and yoga. Taking these things that fuel my passions and sharing them with whomever is interested. Creating community on a deeper level, if just for a few days.
I took that leap. I took a risk.
I landed on my feet. And it was good.